Political Outlook

Published October 18th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Growing frustration over stalled negotiations with Israel, combined with new dynamics in south Lebanon has created signals that violence may soon flare up in the West Bank. There has also been increasing evidence of stepped-up arms trafficking and coordination between Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon and the opposition Hamas organization located in the West Bank. No longer able to challenge Israel in Lebanon, Hezbollah appears to be attempting to shift the battlefield to the West Bank.  

 

Towards the end of June feverish diplomatic wrangling was taking place to secure a three-way summit in Washington between Arafat, Clinton and Barak. The ultimate goal of such a summit would be a Camp David-style accord that would put an official end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arafat set strict conditions as prerequisites for his attending a three-way summit in Washington. He is demanding the completion of the third redeployment, the release of Palestinian prisoners and guarantees from U.S. officials on critical final status issues, including borders, Jerusalem and refugees. Barak is willing to consider transfering three villages on the outskirts of the city prior to the summit, but refuses to comply with the demands posed by Arafat. Still, the thrust of remarks by Palestinian officials is not optimistic. They have warned grimly about deteriorating relations with Israel, which might provoke violent skirmishes. The Palestinian leadership insists that it will declare a state unilaterally in September if an agreement has not been reached at that point.  

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